A View of the Other Side


There’s a marching band that will be left unnamed. They stepped off first last night at the Rowland Field Tournament in Rowland Heights, CA. When you go on first, typically you are small and less refined, not to mention you are in front of a mostly empty stadium. On top of the press box was a guy who, by work & life choices, positioned himself to restart his adjudication notoriety and as such will take every gig he can get – even if it means not starting his season until the rest of the world is nearly finished. That guy suffered his way up to the press box having the shape of someone who rarely has left his house for the last 18 months, climbing up the ricketiest wooden bleachers in desperate need of a handrail, and the most awkward press box ladder west of Tennessee. The field and the stands were filled with people wearing masks as a reminder of the horror this world has been clouded by since the last time people entered this field last. Two years ago, high schools laughed and hugged, and played together in the marching arts world they all shared; and have gone without it for nearly half their high school lifetime.

When the first band stepped off, none of the rest of that mattered.

Yeah, I haven’t blogged in a long time. To put it bluntly, I don’t blog unless I feel good about what I am blogging about. I haven’t felt good about anything for a longer than my downtime. For what it’s worth, I never had COVID, never tested positive, and got vaccinated at the first opportunity I could get it.

I spoke with many around the country, and can see on the tele, that the world is opened up moreso than it is here in California. I am allowed to go back to my office, but only limited days a week. Honestly, if I had a work set-up that I didn’t have to haul back and forth to home I would be there. Masks are still mostly mandatory in many locations. Social distancing is still the norm. Pressure remains on acting as though the pandemic is still alive and kicking hard. In a world where everything can be delivered, I have little need to leave the house.

This hasn’t worn of me well. I have focused on things ahead of me to prepare for throughout this dark time. Like when the city got on me about my lawn, I had it redone (and it is beautiful). Or when family was coming to town, I got the house cleaned up with the worst cleaning lady ever. Yet when I have been left to my own priorities, I have chosen poorly. I never went out of my way to do harm to myself, but never went out of my way to do help to myself either. The simple facts of this period is proof of that. I spent days in the hospital on two occasions for issues with circulatory system. I spent another day in the ER because I was a couple quarts low on blood. My seven medications can leave me weak, tired, and with a toilet that constantly needs to be cleaned. In a single week, I broke my couch, bed, laptop, and even my toilet paper roll holder.

But I have been trying. After nearly 10 years of avoiding the slowly blurring words in front of me, I now wear glasses … religiously. Two months ago I started using a CPAP machine, and finding that dreaming is way underrated. I am trying to break bad habits, with little (but still some) success.

The problem is, a closed world still hung over me like a cloud.

I signed up to judge this fall because it is what I do. To be honest, I wasn’t wild about it. I felt I needed to get things fixed in my life. Truth is, since moving to California, most circuits treat me like a new judge wet behind the ears, and not someone with 25 years experience judging in 14 different states. So, I knew if I turned down work out here, I may never get it back.

During the week, I had to remember how to prepare for a show. I had to find the right information, read the right instructions, review the right judging criteria. I knew there would be rust to shake off, but how much was the question. Moreso, I was concerned about the physical toil of the show. Climbing the bleachers, standing for hours, the drive there, the drive back.

That unnamed band stepped off, and nothing else mattered.

Sure, I was rusty, but in hindsight, I had more rust when I have taken a week off between shows mid-season. I was excited, energetic, and really positive. Marching Band was back. And for a few hours on top of a press box, so was I.

I got home last night, and the demand hit me pretty hard. So did Auggie, since this was the first time in a while he was left alone outside his normal schedule, and I had to endure hours of Auggie kisses. This morning, things hurt.

And this is show #1 of 7 this year.

Next week, I have a much more demanding schedule. I will be flying for the first time since “the before times” to Idaho of all places. I will have to maneuver airports, drive across a state, judge a new circuit with bands I never seen before, drive back, airports, and do it all with the pooch in the pet hotel for the first time in nearly 2 years.

Let’s be honest, I am not back. I am a long way from it. This next month is going to be hard, and that includes a certain milestone coming up on me. But now that I got a view of the other side, I feel motivated, like I want to get back. Like I want to be back.

So let’s get back.


One thought on “A View of the Other Side

  1. Greg W

    Good to hear from you.

    Take care of yourself… There’s a lot folks out here who care about you and expect to have you around and writing for us for a long time to come.

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